Testing Guide

Your CFRE application is valid for 12 months after it is approved. You must take and pass the CFRE Exam during this time frame. If you do not, you will need to submit a new Initial Certification application and fee.

Scheduling Your Exam

The CFRE Exam is administered by Pearson VUE and its partners. Please schedule your testing appointment with Pearson VUE in accordance with the instructions below. We encourage you to schedule your exam as soon as possible to ensure the most convenient location, date, and time for your appointment.

  • The CFRE Exam is available worldwide at Pearson VUE Authorized Test Centers and via OnVUE, a secure online proctoring platform. You will be able to select whether you want to take the exam remotely via OnVUE or at a testing center of your choice when you schedule your appointment with Pearson VUE through its website or call center.
  • Most testing centers are open Monday through Saturday and many have evening hours. The test duration is four (4) hours, with additional time for a computer tutorial before the test begins. You will be making your own personal testing reservation and may be testing with people from a variety of different professions. Online proctoring via OnVUE is available 24-hours per day, seven days per week, with some exceptions.

Appointment Scheduling Procedures

  1. Log in to your account at My CFRE  to verify your name and contact information.
  • Your first and last name, as entered in your contact information at My CFRE, must match your government-issued photo identification document (ID).
  • Your contact information will be used for all subsequent correspondence from CFRE, including sending your certificate when you pass.
  1. The following information is needed to schedule your exam online with Pearson VUE:
  • A valid email address (for receiving your testing appointment confirmation)
  • Email received from Pearson VUE with account information
  • Your name as listed on your government-issued photo ID
  • Name of the Examination Sponsor: CFRE International
  • Your daytime telephone number
  1. Go to the Pearson VUE website to schedule your appointment.
  • Select “Sign In” and follow the instructions. You must sign in as a Returning User using the login and password provided by Pearson VUE via email.
  • You will be able to obtain driving directions and a map from the scheduling page. Pearson VUE Authorized Test Centers are located near convenient parking.

If necessary, you may also schedule by telephoning Pearson VUE Customer Service. Phone numbers for your region can be located on the Pearson VUE website.

In the United States and Canada, operators are available Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Central Time (US). Outside of this region, operators are available Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in local time. If scheduling by phone, please determine your preferred testing center location using the Pearson VUE website before scheduling the testing appointment.

Confirming Your Appointment

  • When you register with Pearson VUE, you will receive an email with your appointment details and confirmation number. Please print a hard copy of your confirmation for your records.
  • It is the candidate’s responsibility to verify that the correct date, time, and place have been requested.

Cancelling and Rescheduling Appointments

Candidates may cancel or reschedule their exam within the same testing window with Pearson VUE up to 48 hours before the originally scheduled exam time. If the candidate chooses to reschedule their exam outside of the specific testing window that they applied for, then they must request a new ATT Letter for a specific Testing Window that is within his or her Application Expiration Date.

If you need to cancel or reschedule your testing appointment, you must take one of the following steps:

All appointments cancelled less than 48 hours prior will forfeit the full exam fee and be required to obtain a new eligibility.

If an emergency occurs within 48 hours of the scheduled exam time, the candidate may opt to miss their exam and submit a “Request to Reactivate/Reissue an ATT Letter” form and pay the appropriate processing fees.

Acceptable reasons for failing to appear for the scheduled exam:

  1. Serious illness of either the candidate or an immediate family member;
  2. Death in the immediate family;
  3. Disabling traffic accident;
  4. Court appearance or jury duty; or
  5. Unexpected military duty call-up

Candidates will be required to include documentation, such as a physician’s note, a police report, or other government-issued documents.

The candidate must send notice of the reason, in writing with accompanying documentation, to the offices of CFRE International within seven (7) business days following the original scheduled testing appointment. CFRE International reserves the right to request additional evidence to support a candidate’s reason for failing to appear for the testing appointment according to the guidelines

Problems with Pearson VUE Scheduling

If you have difficulty scheduling your appointment with Pearson VUE, please e-mail CFRE International at succeed@cfre.org or call CFRE International during normal business hours at +1 703 820 5555.

On Exam Day

  • The exam has 200 multiple-choice questions. Twenty-five (25) of these are pre-test items and will not affect your score.
  • Candidates are given four (4) hours to complete the exam.
  • You will have the opportunity to take a tutorial once you arrive at the testing center to familiarize yourself with the computer screen. Tutorial time does not count toward the timed portion of your exam.

Taking the Exam at a Person VUE Testing Center

Arriving at the Testing Center

  1. Plan to arrive at the testing center at least thirty (30) minutes prior to the scheduled exami time.
  2. You will need to show two (2) forms of identification including one (1) government-issued photo ID with signature. All forms of identification must be original (no photo copies), valid (unexpired) and issued by either your county of citizenship, or by the country in which you are testing. The first and last name on both of the IDs that are presented must match exactly with the first and last name used during the application and registration process. You cannot be admitted without the required identification.
  • Acceptable forms of government-issued photo ID with signature include: passport, driver’s license, military ID, identification card (national/state/province identity card), alien registration card, etc.
  • Acceptable forms of secondary ID include: credit card, original Social Security card, original school identification, identification with printed name and signature, or identification with name and recognizable photo.
  1. You will be required to sign the roster upon entry to the test center.
  2. All Pearson VUE Testing Centers have personal lockers with keys available for all candidates for storing personal belongings while taking the exam. Candidates will not be permitted to bring any belongings into the testing room.
  • Such items include but are not limited to: outerwear, hats, food, drinks, purses, briefcases, notebooks, watches, cellular phones, recording devices, and photographic equipment.
  • Weapons are not allowed at any Pearson VUE Testing Center.
  • You will be asked to empty and turn your pockets inside out prior to every entry into the test room to confirm that you have no prohibited items.

Security at Testing Centers

Please be advised that it is a violation of CFRE International’s Accountability Standards to discuss or disclose exam questions and answer choices with others. This includes and is not limited to test preparation companies, participating on listserv or chat room discussion about exam content, former classmates, work colleagues, etc. Violators will be subject to possible invalidation of exam results, termination of participation in the CFRE program, and/or other appropriate disciplinary action.

Candidate Rules

All candidates are required to sign a Candidate Rules Agreement at the testing center. These rules are listed as follows. Should you have any questions at the testing center regarding these rules, please alert the test administrator on duty.

Pearson VUE Candidate Rules Agreement

  • I will not take the following types of personal items into the testing room: cellular phones, hand-held computers/personal digital assistants (PDAs) or other electronic devices, pagers, watches, wallets, purses, hats (and other head coverings), bags, coats, books and notes. Studying is not allowed in the test center.
  • I will store these items in a secure area indicated by the administrator. Cellular phones, pagers, and other electronic devices must be turned off prior to placing them in the designated secure area. The testing center is not responsible for lost, stolen or misplaced personal items.
  • If I am given an erasable noteboard or exam-specific materials, I will not use them until after the exam has started. I will not remove these items from the testing room at any time during the exam, and I will return them to the administrator immediately after the exam.
  • The administrator will log me in to my assigned workstation, verify that I am taking the intended exam and start the exam. I will sit in my assigned seat until escorted out by a Test Administrator. I understand that eating, drinking, smoking, chewing gum and making noise that creates a disturbance for other candidates are prohibited during the exam.
  • The administrator will monitor me continuously while I take my exam. The session may be videotaped or otherwise recorded for security or other purposes.
  • If I experience problems that affect my ability to take the exam, I will notify the administrator immediately.
  • The administrator cannot answer questions related to exam content. If I have questions of this nature, I will contact the exam sponsor after I leave the testing center.
  • Break policies are established by the exam sponsor. Some exams may include scheduled breaks, and instructions will appear on the computer screen at the appropriate time; whether or not the exam timer stops depends on the sponsor’s policy. If I take an unscheduled break at any other time, the exam timer will not be stopped. The administrator will set my workstation to the break mode, and I will take my ID with me when I leave the room. The administrator will check my ID before I return to my seat and will then restart my exam.
  • While I am taking a scheduled break, I am permitted to access personal items that I stored during the exam. While I am taking an unscheduled break, I am NOT allowed access to personal items other than medication required at a specific time and with the approval of the test administrator. Items not permitted include but are not limited to: cellular phones, exam notes and study guides, unless specifically permitted by the exam sponsor.
  • I will not try to remove copies of exam questions and answers from the testing center, and I will not share or discuss the questions or answers seen in my exam with other candidates.
  • After the exam ends, the administrator will come to my workstation and ensure my exam has ended properly. The exam sponsors may display my score on the screen after the exam or may provide a printed score report. If a printed score report is provided, I will receive it after returning the erasable note board and other materials to the administrator.

Your privacy: Your exam results will be encrypted and transmitted to Pearson VUE and to the exam sponsor. The testing center does not keep any information other than when and where your exam was taken. The Pearson VUE Privacy Policy Statement provides additional information regarding this; you can obtain this by visiting the Pearson VUE Web site (www.pearsonvue.com) or by contacting a Pearson VUE Call Center.

Candidate statement: By signing below or providing a digital signature, I give Pearson VUE my explicit consent to retain and transmit my personal data and test responses to Pearson VUE and to the exam sponsor (either of which may be outside of the country in which I am testing). I understand the information provided above and agree to follow the Rules. If I do not follow the Rules, or I am suspected of cheating or tampering with the computer, this will be reported to Pearson VUE and the exam sponsor, my exam may be invalidated, the sponsor may take other action such as decertifying me, and I will not be refunded my exam fee.

Additional Information

  • Testing sessions will be videotaped and audio-monitored. If, for any reason, you leave the testing room, you will be required to sign out as well as sign back in and re-show your identification. Your time out of the testing room is recorded on the log sheet.
  • All centers have easily accessible restrooms and water available outside the testing room which you can access at any point during your exam period.
  • Should you require access to medication or a snack during the exam, you must request a special accommodation with CFRE International.

Late and Missed Appointments

If you are more than fifteen (15) minutes late for your appointment, you will not be admitted. Late admission is at the discretion of the Pearson VUE and its partners.

If you miss your appointment, you will not be automatically rescheduled with Pearson VUE. You must contact CFRE International at succeed@cfre.org to obtain a new authorization. You will be required to pay a reactivation fee.

If you do not schedule a testing appointment for the Testing Window you selected in your application, or, if you miss your scheduled appointment, a new authorization cannot be generated until reports for the missed Testing Window are processed.

Your Preliminary Score

  • Upon exiting the exam room at the testing center, you will receive a pass/fail score report.
  • Candidate scores are reported on a scale of 200 – 800. Candidates must receive a score of at least 500 to pass.

If You Have Problems at the Testing Center

If you go to your scheduled appointment and find that you are unable to test due to technical or personnel difficulties at the testing center, and you are not rescheduled promptly by Pearson VUE, please call CFRE International immediately. If your difficulty occurs over a weekend, please leave a message.

Taking the Exam Remotely Via OnVUE

If you decide to sit for the exam at your home or office, the following must be observed:

  • 4 Hours without interruption
  • No one, including children and pets, may be present in the room during the exam
  • A working web cam and computer microphone that can remain on throughout the duration of exam
  • A strong internet connection
  • Working computer audio
  • A computer that can pass Pearson VUE’s systems test (Please note: It is recommended that you do NOT use your work computer due to potential issues with firewalls and VPNs. If you do plan to use your work computer, please run Pearson VUE’s systems test several days before your appointment in order to make sure there are no issues that could impede your testing.)
  • You cannot leave the room under any circumstance, including to use the restroom, take medication, or eat
  • If your computer is hooked up to more than one monitor, all additional monitors must be disconnected

If these requirements cannot be met, you will need to sit for the exam in-person.

Please see the Appendix for instructions on using the OnVUE remote proctoring system.

Exam Scores

One point is granted for each correct answer. There is no penalty assessed for an incorrect answer; points are scored only for correct answers.

The “passing point” for each exam has been set according to accepted practices for standardized testing. CFRE International uses the widely accepted Modified Angoff method. Scores are reported as a scaled score between 200 and 800. A candidate must achieve a score of at least 500 in order to pass the exam.

Candidates will be provided with information on the maximum score available and their score in relationship to that maximum. In addition, candidates will be provided with their performance on the exam across each of the six major categories. A candidate scoring below the minimum score has not been successful on the exam and cannot be certified.

The exam is not scored on a curve. There are not a predetermined number of candidates permitted to pass. Your score does not depend on the other candidates who are testing with you that day.

Note: The passing point set for the exam cannot be appealed. To score one point below the passing point is to fail the exam; to score at the passing point or higher is to pass the exam. A score higher than the passing point is not an indication of a higher proficiency in the subject matter.

Official Notification of Certification Status

Within two (2) business days after receiving your scores from the professional testing agency, you will receive official notice via email of your certification status from CFRE International.

Once you receive this official notice of the award of the designation, you are entitled to use the initials “CFRE” after your name. You may also state that you are a “Certified Fund Raising Executive.” Specific guidelines for such use are outlined in the Style Guide for Use of the CFRE Marks.

You will also receive a certificate signifying your achievement after the close of the testing window.

If you do not receive a passing score on the exam, you will be sent information on how to register to retake the exam.

Re-taking the Exam

If a candidate does not pass the CFRE Exam, they may retake the exam a maximum of two times within the one year of application validity. Candidates must wait 30 days from the date of the exam and pay an exam retake fee. Once the failed grade is entered into the database, the candidate will automatically be sent an email alerting them to their next steps.

Their original application will remain valid through the issued application expiration date, twelve (12) months from the date the Application is approved by CFRE International. Candidates will not be required to meet any additional eligibility requirements during this time.

If the candidate has not chosen to re-take the exam by the application expiration date or has failed the re-examination(s), he or she would be required to submit a new initial application and pay all initial certification fees. At this time, the candidate would be subject to any new eligibility criteria which may have been implemented.

Candidates who pass the exam are not permitted to take the exam to obtain a higher score.

Challenging Exam Results

There is no appeal for failing the CFRE Exam.

Following completion of the exam, candidates may submit, in writing, comments on any exam question(s) they believe contain errors in content. All comments must be sent in writing to CFRE International within seven (7) days of the completion of the exam. CFRE International will not respond to challenges received more than seven (7) days following a test date.

These comments should include a justification and reference source from the current Resource Reading List for documentation of why the item should be non-scored.


Tri-Valley Nonprofit Alliance


Nepal Center for Philanthropy and Development


BBB Wise Giving Alliance


Korea Society of Philanthropy


Habitat for Humanity Logo

Habitat for Humanity




Boy and Girls Clubs of America


China – CAFP




Brazil Fundraising Association


European Fundraising Association


Boy Scouts of America


Japan Fundraising Association


North American YMCA Development Organization


New England Association for Healthcare Philanthropy


Kenya Association of Fundraising Professionals


International Catholic Stewardship Council


Fundraising Institute New Zealand


Fundraising Institute Australia


Association of Philanthropic Counsel


Association of Fundraising Consultants


Educate Plus


The Giving Institute